Kathryn Missen's Family Relieved by Chief Coroner Decision to Hold Joint Inquest

OTTAWA, Feb. 8, 2017 /CNW/ - The family of Kathryn Missen are relieved by the decision of the Chief Coroner for Ontario to hold a joint inquest into Ms. Missen's death, along with three other deaths. Ms. Missen, 54, died after first responders failed to respond to her 911 call for help on September 1, 2014.

Ms. Missen called 911 from her home in Casselman, Ontario, where she lived alone. She was in medical distress, which affected her ability to speak. It was an hour and a half before the call was dispatched to OPP. It was two more days before OPP actually came to Ms. Missen's door, after neighbours, concerned that they had not seen her, placed another 911 call. On September 3, 2014, Ms. Missen was found deceased in her upstairs home office, the phone beside her, off the hook.

"My mum's death was absolutely devastating," said Ms. Missen's sole surviving daughter, Harriet Clunie. "We had had lunch together just the day before. She was always very aware and in control of her asthma and allergies, and if she called 911 it meant it was serious and she needed help immediately."

For nearly two years, Ms. Clunie, and Ms. Missen's three sisters, Nancy Beverly, Brenda Missen and Lynne Missen Jolly, along with Steve Dick, a friend with first responder experience who acted as spokesperson for the family, lobbied to have an inquest called to examine the catastrophic failures of the emergency response system.

After the regional coroner informed the family in July 2016 that no inquest would be held, the family appealed to the Chief Coroner of Ontario to have the decision reviewed (as per section 26[2] of the Coroners Act). On February 3, 2017, the Chief Coroner, Dr. Dirk Huyer, announced that an inquest will be held jointly with a case in Sudbury that involved three deaths in a boating accident. In deciding to make it a joint inquest, Dr. Huyer cited the commonality of Ontario's 911 response system in the two incidents.

"So many errors, delays and miscommunications were made in the minutes and hours after Kathryn called 911 that there is clearly a huge systemic problem," said Brenda Missen. "And, sadly, the case in Sudbury shows that it was not just an isolated event. We are so relieved this joint inquest is going forward. We hope recommendations will be made and put in place so that this never happens to anyone else."

No date has yet been set for the joint inquest.


SOURCE Brenda Missen

For further information: Brenda Missen, bmissen@rogers.com

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